Charlie Hunter Quintet: Right Now Move (2003)
With the release of Right Now Move Charlie Hunter has migrated into a more mature ensemble sensibility. Beginning with his choice of instrumental colors, Hunter seems to be exploring new personal ground by combining harmonica, tenor sax, bass clarinet, and trombone with his earthy B-3esque guitar sound. In fact, Hunter appears to approach his unique eight-string guitar from a Hammond B-3 perspective. His bass lines often sound like they could more likely have been generated on the pedals under an organist's feet than from the fatter strings of his instrument. To his credit, Hunter has, by incorporating organ tonal qualities and the swirling impression of a Leslie speaker, come a long way towards creating his own sound on the guitar.
As a guitarist, Hunter's technique on the instrument is nothing short of awe-inspiring. He is adding his voice to the rich heritage of the extended-range guitar work of players like George Van Eps, Howard Alden, Bucy Pizzarelli, and Egberto Gismonti. His phrasing and articulation is fluid and confidenthe is a major player.
Right Now Move is composed of first takes on every tune, conveying the assurance and spontaneity of a band that has spent time working together. Curtis Fowlkes is an outstanding trombonist and contributes much to this project with his depth of musical knowledge, concise ensemble work, and captivating solos. The addition of the chromatic harmonica to this group is a real plus; the instrument adds humor and warmth to the session and brings an unusual timbre to the overall ensemble sound.
From a compositional point of view, Hunter (who wrote all of the tunes save one) has penned a number of pieces with a funky salsa vibe. Every song has the groove, and that appears to be a major element of Hunter's writing style. This music is designed to get you up off your ass and dance, but this is not to say there's no depth to this music. As mentioned above, Hunter is exploring a rich palate of ensemble colors, incorporating plenty of subtle tonal shading in his ensemble. Strong solos abound, and the musicianship is superb; this is a band that can make you think while you shake your butt.
Right Now Move should be a no-brainer for folks who like the music of Medeski, Martin and Wood, due to their similarities in style and background; it should also be of particular interest to fans of Blue Note-era organ combos. Charlie Hunter could be the 21st century's equivalent to Grant Greenin a good way!
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Track Listing: Mestre Tata; Oakland; Changui; Try; Whoop-Ass; Interlude1; Wade In The Water; 20th Century; Interlude 5; Winky; Freak Fest; Mali; Le Bateau Ivre
Personnel: Gregoire Maret-chromatic harmonica; John Ellis-tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Curtis Fowlkes- trombone; Charlie Hunter-8 string guitar; Derek Phillips-drums